English

Feb 6, 2024

Review

'LIFT' | REVIEW

Lift, the latest mass entertainment effort from Netflix, opens with a sweeping vista of Venetian spires. But never fear - if the iconic archipelago wasn’t immediately recognisable to you, the word ‘Venice’ which promptly appears on-screen should assuage your doubts. This opening sequence sets the stage for the next 107 minutes, as we jet from Italy to London to Brussels and Zurich without ever doubting for a second where we’re headed because it’s all so comfortably signposted. 

The story is a tale as old as time. Cyrus Whittaker, played by a disconcertingly demure Kevin Hart, heads up a band of vagrant misfits. Their mission? You guessed it, lifting. Specifically art, though it isn’t long before they’re unwittingly dragged into loftier schemes.

Courtesy of Netflix.

The team is made up of The Hacker: Mi-Sun (Kim Yoon-ji), The Safecracker: Magnus (Billy Magnussen), The Pilot: Camila (Úrsula Corberó), The Master of Disguise: Denton ( Vincent D’Onofrio) and The Engineer: Luke (Viveik Kalra). Of course, we know all of this within the first five minutes because a slick who’s-who montage shows each of them engaged in their area of expertise as their titles flash on-screen. Unfortunately, they never quite manage to transcend these titles. Camila exists to fly, Magnus to use his laser, and Mi-Sun to do complicated tech stuff involving computer screens with lots of little green numbers. 

The film deposits us right in the thick of the team’s first lift, which takes place at an art auction co-hosted between London and Venice. While Magnus swipes an original Van Gogh from a safe in London, the rest of the team have their sights set on something a little more current in Venice - an NFT.

Courtesy of Netflix.

As Interpol watches over the cameras, Cyrus buys the NFT in plain sight. What can he be up to? One thrilling canal chase, cringeworthy party scene and convoluted kidnapping that’s not really a kidnapping later, we become privy to the genius mechanics behind Cyrus’ grand scheme. In leading Interpol to believe he’d kidnapped the NFT Artist, he’d knowingly driven the price of the piece through the roof. And guess what, he’d actually bought it this time - take that Interpol!

What’s frustrating here is the missed opportunity to explore the hypocrisy of how publicity and sensationalism impact art prices, which is a genuinely interesting thesis. Instead we get a five second, heavy handed explanation from Cyrus telling us of his double bluff and then it’s swiftly on to the next swanky location.

Courtesy of Netflix.

Herein lies the biggest issue with a film so clearly constructed to fill a spot on the Netflix content calendar. Every beat acts as nothing more than a hollow vehicle to propel the plot and lead us, convincingly or not, to the next supercharged punch-up. Whispers of thought-provoking storylines begin to raise their heads, only to be swiftly glossed over by a film that’s not interested in acknowledging them.

Courtesy of Netflix.

Which is totally fine, it’s not that kind of film. In fact, it makes no allusions about what it is. And as a mildly entertaining, zero-brain cells required flick that you pop on in the background on a hungover Sunday (then completely forget about and never watch again) - it’s perfectly adequate.

The rest of the film basically exists as an excuse to bring Cyrus into contact with Interpol agent Abby (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), with whom he shared a steamy five days in Paris while they were both using aliases. Ah, star-crossed lovers. The action ramps up when Abby’s boss Huxley orders her to get Cyrus and the gang to help with one last lift. Supervillian Jorgenson (played by an underutilized Jean Reno) is planning some natural disasters with the help of terrorist organization Leviathan, and will be flying crates of gold bullion from London to Zurich to pay them. Cyrus and the others must pull off their most complex heist to date and lift the gold before it changes hands, saving countless lives in the process. 

Courtesy of Netflix.

Oh yes - because of course Cyrus is a thief with morals. ‘I would never lift anything from anyone who doesn’t deserve it,’ he tells Abby from the rooftop of his London penthouse. This modern day Robin Hood accepts Interpol’s challenge on the condition that Abby join them on their mission, and the crew waste no time in getting to work.

Their plan involves an elaborate mid-air signal swap which would see the original plane emergency land elsewhere, while a drone takes its place on course for Zurich. The whole thing hinges on them having an insider in Air Traffic Control in Brussels, which is perfect because Abby happens to know someone who lives in Brussels. It’s unclear whether this man Harry (David Proud) already works at Air Traffic Control or manages to land a gig there in the space of a week but nevertheless, they have their guy!

Courtesy of Netflix.

Well on their way to saving the world, they pay a visit to billionaire playboy Mollsen (Newcomer Oli Green delivers a fun performance here) to borrow his private jet. This jet will be flown by Camila while the others are on the real flight to Zurich, assembling some kind of device that will transfer the plane’s signal to the drone Camila has with her. Does this sound a bit complicated? Eh, never mind the whole thing descends into an aisleside brawl with Jorgenson’s Northern Irish lackeys pretty quickly. So you’ll only have to use your brain for maybe twenty seconds before you can sit back and lose yourself in the reassuring embrace of an overly choreographed fight sequence. 

Overall, the film is fairly paint by numbers and forgettable; a pastiche of better made, better written films. It’s ironic that by the time the credits roll, one is left with the impression that the most audacious lifts in the film were not the Van Gogh, or the NFT, or even the gold, but the tropes and characters directly lifted from other films.

RATING: 2/5

By

Leah McDonald

THE MOVIE CLUBHOUSE PODCAST

The Movie Clubhouse is the best place to be if you love movies & TV!

©2024 The Movie Clubhouse™

The Movie Clubhouse is the best place to be if you love movies & TV!

©2024 The Movie Clubhouse™

The Movie Clubhouse is the best place to be if you love movies & TV!

©2024 The Movie Clubhouse™